Training companies themselves are probably the most savage critics of training when it is done poorly. There are cases where the training curriculum is flimsy, faddish or ephemeral. Trainers too can be disasters - unskilled, inflexible, or simply incompetent.
These few ruin the prospects for the many. Choosing the right company is one aspect of the process. Flakes should be easy to spot. Poor quality delivery is also equally apparent. The large scale waste does not usually come in the selection process and delivery. It usually sits within the management processes of the company receiving the training.
The "box ticking" process of training was requested, trainers were selected, training was delivered is far more rampant than it should be. The waste is not just the money outlaid for the training itself, it is also the collective time cost for everyone involved. Was "the training opportunity was maximized" box even there to be ticked?
Japan has some interesting challenges around how training is perceived and received. For many companys’ employees being sent off to training is perceived to be a slight on one’s abilities, an assault on one’s professionalism, an affront to one’s dignity. Now why would that be the case?
The formal training process is not the norm in Japan. The famous "OJT" – On The Job Training is the standard for skill improvement. This works well when the role model is worth modeling. In many cases though it becomes a permanent continuation of past mistakes, errors, archaic mentalities and outdated technologies.
The linkage between professional management and training is particularly weak in Japan.
The following boss to subordinate pre-training "brief" is a total rarity:
"Suzuki, you have been doing a great job. You are going to be a future leader in our company, and as your boss, I want to make sure you realize your full potential. To step up, we need to help get you to the next level. I have arranged for you to participate in two weeks time in a specially selected training programme, which will add to you current skill base.
For your future success, there are three goals for you to work on with this training:
1) Work on further mastering concise, clear communication skills
2) Develop even more effective people skills, especially how to build "rich" internal networks
3) Develop the confidence required to step out of your comfort zone to be able to take on more initiative, even when there is a risk the initiative may fail. This is critical to enhancing the innovation process for the future of the company.
After the training we will get together again and review the progress made during the training and the follow steps to make sure the training sticks and sets a new default position with your skill set. We will also explore what the focus should be for the next training for you. What questions do you have for me about the training?"
The usual pre-training brief goes like this:
"Suzuki report for training in two weeks time. HR have the details".
Post training there is no debrief.
Trust me, a room full of dismal faces is not a trainers preferred start to the day. This is the reality we often face however, and I always reflect what a tremendous waste of resources, time and money on the part of the client. We are professionals, so we know how to turn them around but it is far from the ideal approach.
So, how is it down at your shop? Are your OJT "expert" managers sending the troops off to training with a spring in their step, or because they think they are being punished, with a big scowl on their faces? Simply calculate the amount of training completed over the last 5 years, including the cost of personnel being in training, and scare yourself when you consider the next five years.
Stop wasting your money, get your managers organised and set up for success rather than failure with your training efforts.